The picture of life on Earth that we can paint from fossil evidence is only as good as the fossils we've found. Here are a dozen of our current oldest known fossils, that have either been discovered — or had their ages better determined — in the last 20 years.
Recent research in households from urban towns in southern England explores attitudes and actions towards garden bird feeding. Findings indicated those people who fed birds regularly felt more relaxed and connected to nature when they watched garden birds and perceived bird feeding was beneficial to bird welfare. Feeding birds may be an expression of a wider orientation towards nature. Feelings of being relaxed and connected to nature were the strongest drivers. As urban expansion continues both to threaten species conservation and to change peoples’ relationship with the natural world, feeding birds may provide a valuable tool for engaging people with nature to the benefit of both people and conservation.
The writer and broadcaster Paul Evans traces a family line back through Shropshire's seams of coal. Chawtermaster Peake is the collier ancestor who hewed coal from Coalbrookdale, birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Paul evokes Peake's Wood Pit near the Wrekin as it is today, abandoned in the 1970s, after having been scraped out by opencast mining. Nature is now reclaiming the site, but Paul reflects on the irony of the climate change that ended the Carboniferous period when the coal measures were laid down, contrasting it with the changes being experienced today as we enter the Anthropocene.
This is the third of this week's series of essays in which writers reflect on how locations that matter to them are shaped by the underlying geology. Paul Evans, who lives in and writes about Shropshire, contributes to the Country Diary in The Guardian. His latest book is 'Field Notes from the Edge'.
Varroa destructor, the introduced parasite of European honey bees associated with massive colony deaths, spreads readily through populations of honey bee colonies, both managed colonies living crowded together in apiaries and wild colonies living widely dispersed in natural settings. Mites are hypothesized to spread between most managed colonies via phoretically riding forager bees when they engage in robbing colonies or they drift between hives. However, widely spaced wild colonies show Varroa infestation despite limited opportunities for robbing and little or no drifting of bees between colonies. Both wild and managed colonies may also exchange mites via another mechanism that has received remarkably little attention or study: floral transmission. The present study tested the ability of mites to infest foragers at feeders or flowers. We show that Varroa destructor mites are highly capable of phoretically infesting foraging honey bees, detail the mechanisms and maneuvers by which they do so, and describe mite behaviors post-infestation.
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